And everyone here, knows everyone here is thinking about
Somebody else
Well, it’s best if we all keep this under our heads
And I couldn’t tell, if anyone here was feeling the way I do
But I’m lonely now, and I don’t know how
To get it back to good

Back 2 Good – Matchbox 20

In a house full of aunties, 15-year-old Liz-Marie was the surrogate mother I didn’t know I wanted. Alone, in a house full of children and mother figures quick to tell me how everything I did and said was the wrong thing. She was the only one showing what was right. Showing…light.

My brother and I were that month’s newest additions to the house of unfortunates and undesirables. My brother even at 4 years old with his broad nose and broad smile was a charmer. Everyone immediately fell in love with him. A change of pace from the half-way house of 3 years ago where he was relentlessly bullied and I was held back from defending him. New environment. Different nuns. More white people. Who knows? He quickly made it home.

I was having a harder time adjusting. My mind kept rolling back to my parents. Why couldn’t Mom keep us? The people she worked for were rich, surely they can make a little space for us. I’m quiet. I’m helpful. I can teach their son in any subject. Why couldn’t I go there. And why didn’t my dad want me?

Liz-Marie showed me to what would become our room. Right now it was hers and she was in the process of clearing the bottom bunk which would become my bed. She asked me what sized underwear I wore. I shrugged my shoulders indicating I had absolutely no clue. My mother bought my underwear. Even though I lived by my dad, when she dropped money for groceries, between their fights, I would get my panties and vests for school.

Liz held up a white and pink one to my waist, then handed it to me. She took it back to check the tag then gave it back. She then handed me four more in a similar pattern in different colours. “Do you know how to wash them?” I did. She gave me a thumbs up in approval. She helped me pick out outfits from the communal closets and I spotted a teal t-shirt with the word “Cool” on it that I prayed would fit me. Then stormed in a boy with Liz-Marie’s face. David, he was the second of her three younger brothers who lived here with her. He was one year younger than me but already he dwarfed me. Just like Liz, he was incredibly thin, but it wasn’t from a lack of food but an abundance of physical activity. They both had jet black, pin-straight hair and matching sideburns. Liz’s hair flowed freely down her back, while his was trimmed in a bowl cut.

“D new boy iz your brudda?” I found my voice to respond in the affirmative. Before he could mouth his follow up question, Liz chased him out the room reminding him that the girls’ quarters were off limits to boys. Especially now that there was another big girl in the quarters besides Liz. Me, at 9 years old, I was considered a big girl. I was always the big girl. I had to cook for my brother and I. Clean up before my dad came home. I walked him to pre-school and would travel to school. On days where I didn’t get transportation money I would would wake up early, do all my chores then walk from Petit Valley to Belmont Girls’ R.C. and be on time to catch the free morning breakfast. At age 9, I took care of things.

Liz’s face beamed when she showed me around the small room. When she came to the radio, she grinned wide flashing her double riders. “What music do you listen to?” I shrugged my shoulders and answered, “I dunno, whatever on the radio.” She turned on the clock radio and fiddled with the dial, without looking at me she asked, “What station do you listen to?” I lost my voice again, shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head indicating my indecision. She flashed those riders again. “That’s ok. I listen to Hott 93.”

She slid the little knob back and forth until the music was clear. Then came his voice. The voice that now brings me calm when my world felt messy.

And she only sleeps when it’s raining
And she screams, and her voice is straining
And she says baby
It’s three a.m. I must be lonely
When she says baby
Well I can’t help but be scared of it all sometimes
And the rain’s gonna wash away I believe it

3 A.M. Matchbox 20

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